Politics

Dramatic? Yes, it bloody is: National surge into big lead in new Paddy-poll

Pollwatch: National open up lead of almost 10 points in a poll that lives up to the hype. And the Greens, on these numbers, are finished. 

Incredibly explosive, Volatile and telling, and now from the Patrick Gower poll hype machine we have Dramatic and devastating.

Hard to argue he’s exaggerating, however, given the numbers from tonight’s Newshub/Reid Research poll, revealed the day after advanced voting opened in New Zealand. “The Jacinda Ardern stardust has been blown away,” went the introduction. It showed “Bill English’s dramatic return to control”, said Gower.

Not only does it put National in a lead of almost 10 points, but such a result would enable the blue team to govern into a fourth term again without recourse to NZ First. If the Greens did miss the 5% threshold – more on that in a second – they’d get to the magic 61 seats without needing any other party at all.

Does it mean that Steven Joyce’s derided and discredited “fiscal hole” gambit worked? Maybe so. Or that the Ardern halo has lost some shine? Has Bill English’s strength in the debates – under considerable pressure, he has stayed strong, phlegmatic – been underestimated amid Jacindamania? Or, more than anything else, that the “captain’s call” on tax – the decision to reverse the previous position and leave open the door to introducing new tax measures in response to a tax working group before the next election – has stirred discontent?

Impossible to say with any certainty, obviously – probably a combination. Perhaps the recent Colmar Brunton polls, including the latest which gave Labour a four-point lead over National, were rogue (or “rouge” as National Party operative Bill Ralston put it earlier today). Maybe the truth is somewhere in between. It certainly seems safe to say that the momentum has ceased; those already getting suited up for a Labour victory parade have been stopped in their tracks.

For the sake of level heads, here is the mid-point for the top four parties between the latest Colmar Brunton, conducted September 2-6, and tonight’s Newshub poll, which covers the period September 6-11:

National: 43%

Labour: 40.5%

NZ First: 7.5% 

Greens: 5%

For the first time since Ardern assumed the leadership six weeks ago, Labour finds itself properly on the back foot. Ardern told Newshub that it might reflect National’s “negative” approach. Will they be tempted to go negative themselves, or will they stick firm to relentless positivity? If this result reflects their internal numbers, there will surely be a temptation to pull a handbrake turn on the tax issue, and revert to the earlier position of pledging to put any changes to the people.

English is back in front, too, in the preferred prime minister stakes.

And the Greens? On this result they’d be “goneski”, said Gower, “a truly devastating result”.

That’s true, of course, but at the same time in one sense a 6% result could be worse for the party led by solo co-leader James Shaw. The Greens’ exhortation that those who have switched to Labour under Ardern need to think very carefully could not be more clearly underlined.

Anyway, on we go. Another quiet day in Election 2017.

Coda: Michael Appleton makes some insightful observations in a thread here cautioning against the over-excitement that some (us included) are prone to on polls. 

Read more on election 2017 here

The Spinoff Longform Fund is dedicated to facilitating investigative journalism. Our focus is on supporting in-depth reporting on important New Zealand stories. Your donation will help us sustain this most resource-intensive form of journalism, ensuring that the most complex and important stories still get told.